Ciao'd while watching the robins
High, low. Up, down. Black, white. And for the purpose of this post, left coast (rain), east coast (snow).
We seem to be living in a world of opposites lately. Points of view about politics, immigration, the stock market, and global warming are, more often than not, polarizing (pun intended). But when it comes to the weather, Mother Nature rules.
While yet another snowstorm (say it ain't snow) is poised to blanket the east, in my neck of the woods we are celebrating spring. Literally. Those April showers that bring May flowers are about to deluge us, thanks to the pineapple express, a wash of warm rain that originates in the tropics.
This weekend will be a beat down weatherwise but I proffer a sunny outlook in the kitchen. This salad showcases spinach, a green that deliciously straddles winter and spring. It's a "meaty" green with a toothsome texture and forward flavor. That's why it pairs so well with smoky, salty pancetta. Pine nuts offer a creamy crunch.
The salad is a lovely side dish for 'most anything, cold weather or warm weather. I savor it on its own, too, with crunchy, country bread - and a double dose of pancetta.
SPINACH SALAD WITH PANCETTA AND PINE NUTS
This salad takes the Italian route with the addition of pancetta, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar.
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups spinach leaves
Preheat to the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast until lightly browned,
3 to 5 minutes. Watch them carefully, as they will burn in an instant!
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta until crisp; drain on paper towels.
In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegars and salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in a steady stream. Taste for seasoning. Add the spinach and toss to coat with the dressing.
Divide among 6 plates, sprinkle with the pancetta and pine nuts and serve immediately.